EAST PEORIA — The sign at the entrance to EastSide Centre is everything anybody would NOT want in a sign. It is:

Inconspicuous.

Ineffective.

Broken.

Bland.

Old.

After more than 20 years, the original EastSide sign is about to get replaced.

"It's a shame there was not a new sign there before now," Commissioner Dan Decker said during Tuesday's meeting of the City Council. "There have been many complaints about there not being a good entrance to EastSide."

The City Council on Tuesday approved the purchase of a new sign from a Danville company and a contract with a Washington business to install it at the corner of Meadow Avenue and Eastside Drive. The cost of the sign from Watchfire Signs is $40,009; the cost of the installation by Vital Signs is $10,050. Both were lowest bids.

Some lingering negative feelings about the extended process to purchase a new sign were evident in the council's 3-2 vote. Mayor Dave Mingus and Commissioner Gary Densberger voted against the agreement.

"Sometimes the low bid isn't the best bid," Densberger said.

The deal was years in the making. Four years ago a deal was in the works with Adams Signs to provide an EastSide sign if the council agreed to the placing of a commercial billboard in a prominent part of the city, EastSide director Doug McCarty said Tuesday.

That deal dissolved.

"So basically, I had to start from scratch," McCarty said.

Meanwhile, the sign at the foot of Eastside Drive was dead. A silent, visually dark and ineffective relic of a sign that provided no information to anybody. EastSide hosts events year-round — it is the site of all four Illinois High School Association softball championships — that are attended by spectators from all over the state. The old sign was not a welcoming sight.

"It was an embarrassment really," McCarty said.

The new sign changes all of that. The new LED lighted sign will display video and can be controlled remotely by smartphone.

"If there are weather issues with outdoor events I can write 'rain delay, games start at noon' or something like that," McCarty said. "People then wouldn't have to drive up into the parking lot and try to find out what is going on. The new sign gives us a lot of new options."

A second reading of the vote to approve the purchase will be on the council's June 20 agenda. After that it should take four to six weeks to install the new sign.

"This will be a great addition to our community," Decker said. 

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at shilyard@pjstar.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.